ABS 3D printing project to develop new generation of polymers for additive manufacturing
Materials to feature better impact resistance, low warpage, dimensional precision, high resolution
An R&D project initiated by Spain-based specialty acrylic-butadiene-styrene (ABS) producer Elix Polymers aims to develop advanced resin grades specifically for 3D printing using the fused filament fabrication (FFF) process. FFF is more commonly known as fused deposition modelling (FDM). ELIX’s aim is to create materials that will produce parts with better mechanical properties such as resistance to impact, low warpage, dimensional precision and high resolution.
Elix Polymers is working in collaboration with AIMPLAS Plastics Technology Centre Valencia, Spain) to develop this new generation of polymer materials and their application in 3D printing. The Spanish government-run Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI) has also committed funding to the project.
The global 3D printing market in 2014 was worth an estimated €2.8 billion ($3 billion) and is expected to more than triple in scale to up to €8.7 billion ($9.5 billion) by 2020. Analysts expect strong growth in various sectors thanks to the numerous benefits offered by 3D printing, such as the speed with which an idea can be brought to reality, the reduction in manufacturing errors that can occur, and the efficient use of materials.
With its intrinsically high tensile strength, impact strength and processability, ABS is one of the two most popular thermoplastics used for 3D printing, the other being the biopolymer polylactic acid (PLA).
AIMPLAS and Elix have already been working together in various stages of the new R&D project, from the development of the ABS product and modification of formulations, through to manufacturing of filament with thicknesses of 1.75 mm and 2.85 mm using AIMPLAS’s single-screw filament extruder line, as well as printing and validation of the product.